By Carlyn Montes De Oca
My love affair with sugar
When I was young, I loved playing sports. Once during my 8th grade softball season, our coach made us a proposition that was too good to be true. She offered to buy an ice cream sundae to any player who hit a home run against the opposing team. More than one home run? More ice-cream sundaes for that player.
I hit three home runs that game.
It was also the last time my coach made the offer.
Needless to say, as most kids, I grew up on sugar and refined carbohydrates – ice-cream, cookies, pie – they all brought a big smile to my face. What I didn’t know at the time – what none of us knew – was the long term effect eating that much sugar would have on our physical health and ultimately on our longevity.
I have no regrets about my sweet tooth of the past. I feel that every experience has brought me to where I am today. Still, it would have been handy to know that the amount of sugar that the human body needs, per serving, was contained in an apple, not a bag of cookies.
What’s so bad about eating sugar?
High Glycemic carbohydrates convert into sugar in the human body. Glycemic is a term used to refer to a scale used to measure carbohydrates. Cookies, candy, pasta, white rice, alcohol and potatoes are some examples of high glycemic carbs. Eating an excess amount of these kinds of carbs leads to a spike of sugar in our bloodstream. This spike is then followed by a sharp drop. As a kid, this plunging of my blood sugar would leave me feeling irritable, moody, tired and eventually craving even more sweets.
Why would my body crave what it didn’t need? Because the only way to bring my blood sugar back up quickly was to eat foods that would generate the most fuel. Carbohydrates do that. The problem is that instead of bringing my blood sugar back up to within a healthy range, another spike would be created that surpassed that limit. What followed would be another plunge followed by another spike. This type of up and down roller coaster ride, which comes from eating too much sugar, can also create depression, dizziness and excess weight gain.
Science has discovered that it takes about 15 years for these kind of repetitive spikes and crashes to develop chronic inflammation in our bodies. This kind of systemic inflammation leads to high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol, arthritis, diabetes and many other ailments. It also leads to obesity. Most of us do not eat this way for 15 years. We actually eat this way all of our lives.
So what is the answer? Do we eliminate all carbohydrates from our food supply? Do we say goodbye to sugar altogether? Of course not. Our body needs sugar to survive…..the right kinds of sugar. The kind that will not create sugar spikes and crashes in our blood stream and lead us towards death’s door prematurely.
Low glycemic fruits and vegetables (most fruits and vegetables except for tropical fruits and potatoes) are the most optimal sources of carbohydrates and sound nutrition for our body to consume. They are packed with vital antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, which are paramount for health and longevity. Combined with healthy fats and healthy proteins, these powerhouses of nutrients will keep our body fueled, maintained and healthy for years to come.
5 Tips towards balanced blood sugar
- Eat low glycemic fruits and vegetables and high quality proteins instead of grains and processed carbohydrates – if you’re not sure what is low glycemic, check out the book, “Healthy for Life“.
- Eat breakfast within one hour of waking. Make sure this first meal is a balance of low-glycemic carbohydrates, healthy fats and a high quality protein. I make a protein shake every morning that is not only balanced, but delicious too. Eat frequent and small meals throughout the day.
- For a good balance, follow the 80-20% rule. Eighty percent eating low glycemic – 20% otherwise.
- Exercise daily for 30-45 minutes.
- Take high quality nutritional supplements. Optimal amounts of Vitamins and Minerals are extremely important for sugar balance.
The majority of people who visit my acupuncture practice at Modern Alchemy Acupuncture & Nutritional Counseling in Marin County, have some form of sugar imbalance. In fact an astounding number of people in this country have some form of insulin resistance. This is a type of metabolic imbalance, which can lead to diabetes and comes from eating too many refined carbohydrates.
Once they are aware of the connections between sugar and their health, most people want to make a change. But cravings and addiction can be a challenging task master. One step at a time to make long lasting and permanent change is often the wisest course.
For this reason, I recommend a wonderful and effective jump-start program to reach their goals. The marvelous side effect of this program is weight loss. And who doesn’t like that? Whether you live in Marin County and are a patient of Modern Alchemy Acupuncture or live somewhere else in the world, if you have issues with your blood sugar or are carrying around a few extra pounds, Click here and check out this program.
The Deeper Wisdom
Finally, when I work with someone who has issues with sugar cravings, or are carrying excess weight, I often suggest that this is a great opportunity to take a look at their lives and see where they are missing the sweetness that life has to offer. When we reach to food to satiate our cravings it is often a way to mask uncomfortable emotions, or as a distraction from something we may not want to look at. Using sugar as our primary source of feeling joy blocks our ability to really see the vast palette of experience that life has to offer.
Remember that optimum health requires not only looking at our physical body’s imbalances but the emotional and spiritual components that effect it as well.
May you have a blissful and peaceful holiday….To your health and longevity,